Thursday, July 17, 2008
REVIEW: Batman Forever
Director: Joel Schumacher
Starring: Val Kilmer, Tommy Lee Jones, Jim Carrey, Nicole Kidman, Chris O'Donnell
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures
MPAA: Rated PG-13
After some viewers found Burton's Batman Returns to be too dark, the people at Warner Bros. made the decision to lighten the series up so they can make it accessible to more audiences. Director Tim Burton didn't like this and wanted to step down as director, but instead serve as producer of the film. Warner Bros. then hired director Joel Schumacher to take over directing duties for this film. Actor Michael Keaton who played the crime fighting dark knight in the first two Batman films didn't like the way Schumacher was taking this franchise and ended up dropping out. This resulted in a whole new cast and a whole new Batman. While this new change definitely made it more appealing to people considering it made more money than Batman Returns, but it also created new problems.
Bruce Wayne (Val Kilmer) a.k.a Batman confronts a dastardly duo. Formerly District Attorney Harvey Dent (Tommy Lee Jones), incorrectly believes Batman caused the courtroom accident which left him disfigured on one side turning him into Two-Face. Edward Nygma (Jim Carrey), a former employee of millionaire Bruce Wayne, is out to get revenge on Wayne for turning down his brain draining product thus turning him into The Riddler. While sexy psychologist Chase Meridian (Nicole Kidman) tries to analyze and seduce both Bruce Wayne and Batman, The Riddler teams up with Two-Face to bring down Batman and drain the minds of Gotham City with his device. Batman gets the much needed help in the form of a circus performer named Dick Grayson (Chris O'Donnell) who's out for vengeance after being orphaned by Two-Face.
The movie actually has a plot that's meaningful compared to Burton's two previous Batman films. We even get some kind of origin to Batman in a form of flashbacks. With that said, the movie also has some plot holes. There are problems with the characters and settings that fans of the comics will easily find out. Sure Burton's version wasn't perfect either, but I think it was alot closer than what Schumacher did with this film. Theirs even more cheesy lines in this film than the ones before. The movie is also much more family oriented. Gone are the dark and creepy mood that Burton created. Now, I personally loved what Burton did with the first two films and thought it really made a darker version of the caped crusader. Schumacher takes the easy light hearted way and I'm not sure this is a good thing since Batman is a dark character. While we do get two different villains this time and even the introduction to Robin, but not even these really bring alot to the table. I know this is Schumacher's first take on the Batman series and that I shouldn't complain too much, but theirs just many little things that make it look like they weren't even paying too much attention to the comics.
Val Kilmer plays Batman/Bruce Wayne and he replaces Michael Keaton from the first two films. His take on Wayne just isn't good enough even though he does a decent Batman. I think I liked Keaton alot more compared to Kilmer. Kilmer is a good actor, but I don't think this role was right for him. Tommy Lee Jones plays as Two-Face/Harvey Dent and he just doesn't belong in this film. Jones is a fine actor, but again, I don't think this is a role that's catered towards him. Jim Carrey plays as The Riddler/Edward Nygma. I think Carrey was a great choice to be playing as The Riddler. I do however think his dialogue at times can be too funny. Nicole Kidman plays as Dr. Chase Meridian and shes smoking hot in this movie. I think she does a pretty good job in her role, but nothing too special. We also have Chris O'Donnell playing as Robin/Dick Grayson. Now I think O'Donnell looks like a pretty good choice to be playing this character, but his acting in this movie isn't really top notch and pretty dull at times.
The visual look of Batman Forever is much different than the previous films. This is a much lighter and color friendly version of Batman compared to Burton's versions. The films source is pretty clean and in much better shape than the previous Batman films. Film grain is minimal here. Theirs also more CGI in this movie than the ones before. Its spread out nicely and not really distracting. It also looks pretty good for its time. Colors are brighter this time around and Gotham City is all lit up. Maybe alittle too lit up because at times it looks like the city has neon lights glowing which is kind of a problem considering this is the mean streets of Gotham City. The black color is pretty average and not really inky the way I would have liked it to be. Detail is pretty great and it really shows. Its not too impressive, but it makes this movie look pretty cool.
The soundtrack in Batman Forever is pretty good, but fails in comparison to the previous films. Danny Elfman who composed a wonderful score for the previous Burton Batman films, doesn't return here. Instead we get another different score by Elliot Goldenthal who also did the 1995 Michael Mann hit film "Heat". While he does a pretty good job here and composes a score that seems to work with the movies mood, I think Elfman did the better job. His music really went well with Burton's art direction, but since Burton isn't directing this time, I guess its alright. We also get other music and some by Seal. These sound pretty good and Ill always Kiss from a Rose, but I don't think they fit with the Batman universe. The movies got some good bass that's worth listening too. There are alot of action scenes and the bass follows through.
Batman Forever doesn't come close to how great the previous films were. I enjoyed Burton's darker version of Batman compared to Schumacher's version. That being sad, the story this time around is better than the ones before and actually seems to make sense even though parts of the film don't really stay true to the comics. The cast is average at best with only Jim Carrey giving a performance that's actually worth watching. Everyone seems misplaced and pretty dull. The visual look of the film is brighter and more colorful this time. The soundtrack is pretty good and seems to fit the mood of the film. While, I wouldn't recommend this to hardcore Batman fans, this is still a pretty entertaining film none the less. Its an action packed popcorn flick that's worth checking out if your into this type of stuff.